What 6 elite athletes say about doping

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What do you think about the current state of doping in athletics?

Ryan Hall, retired US marathon runner

My perspective as an athlete is that I didn’t pay super close attention to it. The problem is if you start believing that everyone’s doing it, you’re setting yourself up with a massive disadvantage mentally. If you think the guy next to you is doping, you expect them to beat you because they’re on something. If you just expect everyone you’re racing against is clean then in your mind at least it’s a level playing field. It might not truly be that, but it’s better to believe it is.

It’s sad, you know? It’s robbery, is what it is. People are stealing amazing experiences that clean athletes should be having, whether that’s getting medals, the Olympic Games or prize money. I personally have lost a decent amount of money from people who were in front of me who we later found out were drug cheats. It’s literally robbery. It’s not right. It’s good that they’re cracking down on it and taking steps towards eliminating it.

Eilidh Doyle, British 400m hurdler

The current doping scandal is very disappointing. As a clean athlete I find it very sad. I train hard and work hard constantly so I am in the best shape possible when I race, so I can step off the track known I've given everything and the end result has been the best of my ability. I just hope that all the girls I race against can say the same, so wherever we all finish in a race is completely fair and right. The only good thing about these scandals is more people are getting caught so hopefully it is becoming more of a deterrent, however I feel the biggest deterrent would be lifetime bans for anyone caught doping.

Candace Hill, US sprinter

I just say if you feel confident and comfortable in your training then you don’t need those performance-enhancing drugs to help you on the track. Track should be the queen sport, everyone’s at the same starting line and you should just compete to your best ability. If you start doping, you don’t respect your sport and you don’t respect yourself.

Michael Johnson, retired US Olympic sprinter

To be completely honest with you, if you look at my history, I’ve never shied away from a question but at this point I have absolutely no idea where this is going to go. And that in itself shows just how bad it is.

Obviously, I was disappointed with all of the things that have been revealed over the last year. I think you won’t find anyone involved in the sport who’ll have a different view to that. Everyone would say they’re disappointed.

Zola Budd, retired South African middle-distance and long-distance runner

In these drug tests previously, people said they just couldn’t be tested because of medical reasons, I think it was because of the unwillingness of federations. And now it’s different, but I think it’s still very rife. You can look back at the last two years, and even now they’re retesting so many. If you look at distance running in the 90s when people started using EPO the times just dropped, it got ridiculous.

If somebody starts beating you that was never close even close to you… [you think] maybe I should eat the same breakfast as that person. That peer pressure on young athletes. Athletes start using earlier and earlier.

Mary Decker, retired US middle-distance runner

I don’t think an entire country should be banned for starters, but back then, I started competing internationally in the 70s and clearly there was doping going on in Russia but we didn’t have drug testing. I remember in high school wearing t-shirts saying ‘100% natural’ because I was so opposed to the doping situation. In the 80s, I was extremely ecstatic that in ’83 they were doing testing at the world championships and I did go through a period in the 80s where I would only agree to run in certain events, especially in Europe, if they had testing. It’s gotten so bad, it’s almost like ‘Okay, let’s have two Olympics. The dirty Olympics and one for the people who want to be clean.' Because so far they haven’t been able to control it, and you can’t suspend a whole country, I mean because especially track and field is so individual. I don’t know what the answer is – obviously what they’re doing hasn’t solved the problem.

In America, you get offered drugs – or I did, in the 80s. I was recruited by a coach after the ’83 World Championships. I remember going on lunch and them saying ‘Well, you know, you’re not going to beat the rest of the world unless you do what they’re doing’ and that’s like – I just won the World Championships, two events, and this person’s telling me I need to dope. I got up and left. I don’t think you can control that [people being offered doping drugs], it’s up to the individual person to make that decision for themselves. Where I come from, I was never healthy long enough, I don’t think I reached my potential nearly, just naturally, why would I start screwing around with my body chemistry?